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Kalispell Flathead still basking in 'really great feeling' of breaking relay records

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Posted at 4:47 PM, Jun 05, 2024

KALISPELL — It's not every day that one has the opportunity to set an all-class state record for track and field, but that's exactly what three Kalispell Flathead students did at state, not once, but twice.

"It was a great feeling. It's been a goal of mine for my entire life to be a state champion in something, I didn't really care what it was," said senior sprinter Brody Thornsberry. "To be able to say I was a state champion in track means a lot to me, and then also being a state record just means that much more. It's a really, really great feeling."

Thornsberry was one of three sprinters that participated on both of Flathead's record-breaking relay teams, which clocked a time of 41.47 seconds in the 400-meter relay and a time of 3:15.92 in the 1,600-meter relay. They were achievements the boys knew could be accomplished from the get-go.

"As soon as we kind of finished our first relay this season, like we knew we had the talent," said junior sprinter Ben Bliven. "A lot of guys really improved over the offseason, and kind of coming out and being able to do that, especially for this community, it meant a lot to us, and getting to send Brody out with that was really important. We knew he wanted to be state champion and a state record holder is even better."

Not only did the two relay teams set new state records, but the Flathead boys as a collective team placed second at state, something that showed the growth of the program over the past several years.

"It’s just crazy going from 15th place my freshman year to taking second and having a chance to win it," Thornsberry said with a smile. "It was just so special."

In the 400-meter relay the team broke a state record held since 2009 by only one one-hundredth of a second, while in the 1,600-meter relay the team smashed the record from 2017 by three seconds, something the boys had their sights set on all year
 
"It felt great going out there. We knew we could do it and we just had to go out there and execute," said sophomore sprinter Will Hollensteiner. "And you know, we've been training for it all season, like always knowing like there's a shot we could break the state record this year. And for us to go out there and execute in both of them, it felt so great."

As for the mentality going into both relays and what the wins meant:

"We knew our handoffs the day before were just perfect," said Bliven. "We felt so explosive and we heard other people talking about it and so we're like, 'Yeah, we can go in tomorrow, and if we execute correctly we know what we can do.'"

Even after the strong year with a second-place team finish at state, the Braves who aren’t graduating are hungry for more and already have their eyes set on the future.

"I think Flathead has a pretty bright future. You know, we come back with a lot of new guys who can put in a lot of work in the offseason and get a lot better," said Hollensteiner. "I think we can go to state next year and we're aiming to win it, so we'll see."